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Films -- Animated

  • Pixar has some examples - Pete Docter, director of Up and Monsters, Inc., even said that he thinks a true villain ("I'm gonna wake up and do evil!") is an unrealistic character.
    • Mr. Waternoose from Monsters, Inc. is a father-like figure to Sulley and, his motto "We Scare because we Care" is genuine as he really does wish to maintain the monster world through providing energy from children's screams. So, to this ends, he agrees to assist Randall in his plan to extract screams out of children with the Scream Extractor and, as he says to Sulley, is willing to kidnap children to save the company.
    • WALL-E has AUTO, the autopilot of the Axiom, whom refuses to let the inhabitants go back to Earth, even though this directive is more than 700 years old and plant life does exist (as shown at the end). But hey, he's merely a computer. He can't choose not to follow his programming. He's not so much a crazy AI as just following an ill-considered directive by a man seven centuries dead. Besides, realistically speaking, one healthy plant does not promise enough resources for the entire population of that huge ship.
      • Which is another reason why Pixar decided to add that lengthy musical montage as the coda.
    • Charles Muntz from Up just wants to catch a bird and prove that he was right. Unfortunately, his methods (after going completely crazy) include killing everybody who shows up at his refuge.
    • Evelyn Deavor from The Incredibles 2 wants to obtain revenge on the Supers for the deaths of her parents, and make the people of the world less reliant and complacent on them. To this end, she invents the Screenslaver and turns several Supers into them, ordering them to wreck a ship to demonstrate how crippling they are to mankind.
  • The Disney Animated Canon also has a few.
    • For instance, The villains of Zootopia just want to do what is best for their people. Too bad things get to Bellwhether's head and she decides she has to rule in perpetuity so that prey can gain an advantage over predator...


Films -- Live-Action

  • HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. He is only devoted to the mission at hand, and believes that Bowman and Poole will jeopardize the mission by disconnecting HAL after lip-reading from them that they intend to do so if the AE-35 component does not fail as HAL has predicted. It's all due to a Logic Bomb. Since, if worse came to worse, HAL could complete the Monolith mission on his own, he was informed of its existence but told to keep it a secret from Bowman and Poole. But his primary directive was to never lie. And so he reasoned that if he killed all the astronauts, he would never have to lie. And when he overheard that Bowman and Poole were planning to disconnect him, he, ignorant of what sleep entailed, began fearing he would die and fought to defend himself.
  • Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin (though she does make her extremist ways known from the outset), as well as the version of the character from Batman: The Animated Series. In fact, most of the animated Bat-villains are sympathetic in their first appearance, then less so as their motivation shifts to "revenge on Batman."
    • A similar thing happened with the version from The Batman, who was set up as even more sympathetic due to being a teenager, but, in subsequent appearances, becomes simply a villain. Subverted in the show's spin-off comic "The Batman Strikes", in which her sympathetic aspects and good intentions are retained.
  • In The Boondock Saints, the brothers' crusade against evil could be described as a mild form of this trope.
    • Il Duce, on the other hand, plays this straight.
  • In Category 6, when Mega Corp Lexer ignores Dan London's repeated warnings that their power grids are woefully underprotected, he tries to make an example by covertly hacking their mainframe. Unfortunately, a freak chain of events causes this simple What the Hell, Hero? to cause the city's entire power supply to be cut off.
  • Death Wish is one of the Most Triumphant Examples of this trope, with Charles Bronson killing any thugs who menace others... granted, they have a terminal case of Too Dumb to Live going after Bronson, but still.
  • Father maintains a forced regimen of the anti-emotion drug Prozium on the populace in Equilibrium, ostensibly to avoid future global conflicts like the one that drove them into semi-seclusion. Mildly subverted in the end when Father DuPont, lamenting the imminent downfall of his society, admits to Preston that he (Father) does not take Prozium, and thereby is a hypocrite.
  • D-FENS from the film Falling Down.
  • In Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, General Hein just wants to kill the phantoms to save people from being killed by them. Unfortunately, his way of doing so involves killing a bunch more people instead of finding a solution to the problem from the roots, as the Heroine is trying to do, and actively tries to stop them. Yet, still, he is not an outright villain. He has a literal What Have I Done moment.
  • Battra (Mothra's Evil Twin of sorts) in the film Godzilla VS Mothra: Battle For The Earth. On the one hand, he's just doing what he was created to do (IE: Maintain balance between man and nature), but he thinks that the only way to keep nature safe is to utterly destroy humanity.
  • The Seatopians in Godzilla VS Megalon. Their entire reason for attacking the surface is in retaliation for the damage caused to their world by underground nuclear testing. The Seatopian leader even flat-out states that they don't want to go to war but feels they have no choice but act in self defense.
  • Hot Fuzz: The Neighborhood Watch Alliance of Sandford have been killing off anyone who may lower their chances at getting the "Best Neighborhood" award. Not well-intentioned enough? It's because one of the protagonists' mother committed suicide after the neighborhood didn't win once. One of the villains is the mother's husband and, thereby, said protagonist's father. He always knew that he's his father though, so this is not an example of I Am Your Father.
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 "If mum knew what you were doing she'd kill herself again!"

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  • Speaking of AIs gone wild, VIKI of I, Robot. She basically imprisons all the humans in her city to protect them from themselves.
  • The Paladins from Jumper hunt and slay members of the titular breed of humanity to protect the world from the Jumpers' sociopathy that descends into evil. This would be a reasonable claim if not for the Paladins' killing of the Jumpers' friends and family too.
  • Gerard Butler's character in the drama/thriller Law Abiding Citizen is a textbook example of this. He's a man who saw his wife and daughter murdered by thugs and then watched one of the thugs get off lightly due to a dubious plea deal. This gives him a right to be pissed. And if he had simply botched the execution of one to result in a very painful death and murdered the other, he might manage to be simply an Anti-Hero and still remain sympathetic. On the other hand, murdering every single person connected to the trial in some way with an extraordinarily executed Batman Gambit, and threatening and targeting even their families may be seen as going a little too far.
  • Ex-Secretary of Education and former 3rd Street Elementary School principal Phillium Bennedict's reason for wanting to eliminate Summer Vacation and, initially, get rid of Recess, as well as to change the orbit of the moon during Lunar Perogee to essentially freeze the planet, was to increase the learning rate and test scores of the nation, as he felt that recess and summer vacation were causing them to atrophy, especially when Canada, Iceland, and Norway had higher test scores than them. Suffice to say, this extremism cost him both his job as principal and the Secretary of Education.
  • Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel just wants to get pensions for war widows in The Rock.
  • Jigsaw in the Saw movies claims that his sadistic deathtraps give people an opportunity to truly appreciate what they have by making them fight for it. That the survivors are left emotionally traumatized and usually horrifically mutilated seems to be merely an unfortunate side effect.
  • The Secret of Kells has Abbot Cellach. He acts like a total Jerkass and is completely obsessed with building his wall, to the point where he disdains and eventually forbids his monks from doing anything else. However, the point of the wall is to keep out the Vikings, who already killed all the family he had except for his young, impressionable nephew, who now wants to do non-wall related things like go outside and create beautiful holy books. He doesn't listen when Aidan tells him that his wall won't hold and they should all flee instead, which leads to the deaths of many, many innocent people.
  • The Operative in Serenity is very extremist but still fits in this category. He attempts to paint himself as Necessarily Evil, however.
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  • Seven Days To Noon: Professor Willingdon wants the British government to stop the production of nuclear weapons and will set one off in central London if they do not comply.
  • Angela from Sleepaway Camp sequels is practically the namer for this trope. If you don't believe me, watch the films.
  • The Galactic Empire from Star Wars: most generally believe that they are the good guys fighting rebel "Terrorists."
  • King Koopa in Super Mario Bros, although a dictator who often subjected criminals to De-evolution, had focused on trying to conquer the regular dimension specifically for his species' survival, and it's really hard to blame him when his current dimension is basically a Crapsack World. It also, in a way, humanizes him compared to his second in command, Lena, who really simply wanted to simply rule everything, not caring whether her race benefited or not.
  • John Travolta's character in Swordfish claims to be this and has no qualms about going after civilians to achieve his goals.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Arguably Loki. On the one hand, he is very right in saying that Thor wasn't ready for the throne but on the other, everything he does is motivated by a mixture of feeling Always Second Best and his "Well Done, Son" Guy attitudes.
    • Alexander Pierce paints Hydra as this in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They and SHIELD share the same enemies; war, disorder, terrorism; Hydra was simply willing to pay a higher price to get that perfectly ordered world.
    • The titular villain of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Inheriting Tony Stark's fear that another space-based threat is coming to Earth, he views his causing chaos as providing the necessary impetus that Earth will need to grow stronger to survive Thanos.
    • Captain America in Captain America: Civil War. For all the destruction he causes, he is simply trying to protect an innocent man who was framed for a crime.
    • Killmonger in Black Panther. He may have long since crossed into He Who Fights Monsters but he does genuinely want to empower black people to no longer be subservient to the whites.
    • Zig-zagged with Thanos. The idea for his Depopulation Bomb was born out of a desire to save his own overpopulated planet and he seeks to prevent other planets from suffering the fate of his own. But as Gamora accurately pegs, all Thanos really cares about is proving to the ghosts of his people that his insane idea would have worked. Avengers: Endgame confirms this, showing that Thanos, while genuinely wanting to bring about a perfectly balanced and bountiful universe, is not a Noble Demon, no matter what he tells himself or others.
  • Transformers:
  • Christof in The Truman Show sees the real world as a place of pain and misery, so he traps his adopted son Truman in a fake world where everyone he knows is an actor, so that he won't have to face reality.
  • Jet Li's character in Warlords started out as a straight hero until the half way mark, when he had to decide how to provision his limited supply of food. He had enough to feed his army for 10 days, but if he shared it with the army that had just surrendered to him, there wouldn't have been enough food for anyone to live. His solution: massacre the enemy army. He remained well-intentioned and acted in the interests of the greater good, but his methods remained unsavory.
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